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Monday, April 16, 2012

An Update Through Photos

I've survived another busy weekend, but I must say that this one was one of the most fun I've had here!! 

I woke up at 3:00am on Saturday morning and hopped into a car with Lilika, Lilika's uncle, Martin, and Bill. It was dark out, and without any lights guiding us on the streets, I found myself zoning out in the blacked out world around us. About 3 hours later, just as the sun came up, we arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece for the kids' ACT test. Although we were about 15 minutes late for registration, and things got a little intense for a moment, we managed through it. The first stop after the ACT test was STARBUCKS. Observe pure bliss below:
That's a Venti Caramel Macchiato right there. I inhaled that drink in about 10 minutes and debated on buying another, but my nerves were in shock, so I decided against it. Going 8 months without a legit fancy coffee drink sure can do weird things to your body. :D

The above photo is of the square in Thessaloniki. It was a really nice town!! There were a lot of shops and restaurants everywhere. I miss having such variety. Although it rained off and on all day, I'd still say we managed to have a beautiful day for strolling around the city. After the ACT test was done, we decided to shop for the rest of the afternoon. Lilika and I set off on an adventure in various stores, and often got in trouble for having the camera out....

 For lunch, we stopped at a fast food Asian type of place. They offered noodle and rice dishes, but I instantly found sushi available and seized the opportunity. I was in HEAVEN. Again, not having sushi for 8 months is not pretty. :D

Originally, Bill and I were going to stay the night. However, after discovering that everything would be closed on Sunday and realizing we'd gotten all the shopping out of our system, we decided to ride back with the group. It was a BEAUTIFUL ride home. The landscapes were remarkable. Everything was breathtaking, and we found ourselves pulling over quite often for photos.

This is Bill, the other volunteer who lives with me in Kocani. 

Martin and Lilika....taking advantage of the scenery for some good photos!!

Later in the drive, we were all getting pretty quite. I think our exhaustion was really kicking in. Suddenly, I turned to my right and saw an enormous rainbow...TWO, in fact!! I yelled "rainbow," and the next thing you know, we are on the side of the road. 

You see what I mean about wonderful and breathtaking scenery!?!?!?! We got in pretty late, and my body reacted like it had jetlag. I went to bed early, and after sleeping off about 10 hours, I woke up to Easter in Kocani. 

Macedonians celebrate the Orthodox Easter. I found their traditions to be very similar to ours in the US, and I was lucky to have many people to share the holiday with!! I began my morning drinking coffee and Baileys with Bill and CJ at Bill's new apartment. Bill finally found a new home too, and he is now right in the center as well. After enjoying the morning with the boys, I made the 30 minute walk up to Emilija's house. Upon entering, I discovered Emilija was already hard at work preparing a nice lunch, complete with pork, salads, homemade bread, and meats with cheese!! I finally got to have some good sit-down quality time with Emilija, which was much needed!! 

From there, I walked back down into town to Lilika's family's house. They'd jus finished their first lunch, and were about to begin their next. Here, when you "na gosti" (aka visit people), you are expected to eat. Personally, I have no problem with eating, but after having two meals prior to a visit, eating another meal can be painful. That being said, I was offered one of my favorite dishes, Sarma (stuffed grape leaves), along with some whiskey, soup, breads, pork, potatoes, and endless salads. I was glad to finally spend some quality time with Lilika's family. Her uncle was still there (the one who took us to Greece), and her mother and father were there as well. The family was awesome to share some time with!! They were even entertained when I attempted to carry on in Macedonian. I got to take part in a local tradition of "cracking eggs." I had a running record, but alas, it came to an end. You'll see this is my new video!!

After a few hours, I decided to head back home so I could lay FLAT, in order to breath properly. :D
It was a great weekend, and today has been a much needed day of rest for me. I've been trying to pack up my apartment for the big move on Wednesday. I cant wait!! I'm not sure how crazy this week will end up becoming, but I do hope I have another day or so to play catch up on everything. 

Ah...I almost forgot. VIDEOS!!!!

Ok, first off, I've actually got TWO videos, but one of them is taking FOREVER to upload onto YouTube. So to hold you over, here is a short video from the event we had on Thursday with the school. I promise I'll post the new video once it's uploaded fully. : ) 

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